Sneaking in Veggies | Baked Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Ham

Mission:  Sneaking veggies into my kids' diet.

I stared at the pantry for a long time last night, trying to figure out what I was going to make for dinner.  I decided to make baked spaghetti.  My kids don't always like sauce on their noodles.  They would much rather have butter.  But, I figured if I baked it, they would be more likely to eat it with sauce.  So, I decided to bake it with cheese on top.  And we always, always, always use whole wheat noodles.  

It's funny how different families sneak nutrition into their kids' diets in different ways. 
My sister's kids are pretty good at eating their veggies.  And she's good about giving the veggies to them.  But, they eat all white bread, pasta and rice.  My kids are much pickier with veggies, but eat all whole wheat and brown everything--whole wheat pasta, bread, brown rice.  I figured if I started my kids on the whole grain stuff early enough, they would always eat it and actually prefer it.  They've never known a difference.  I like the whole wheat pasta better because it's firmer and nuttier.  I actually don't like the white stuff now!  And you can't beat 6 grams of fiber per serving.

So, yes, my kids eat their whole grains.  Eating their veggies is a totally different thing.  So, last night I decided to steam my leftover broccoli and cauliflower and a long carrot that I had.  I think it ended up being about 2 cups of veggies.  Once I steamed the veggies, I added them to the sauce that I had warming in a pan.  I used my immersion blender to blend the veggies into the sauce until it was smooth. Here are the rest of the ingredients and the directions.

12 - 16 oz. of Whole Wheat Spaghetti
25 oz. jar of Pasta Sauce--I used a store brand organic three cheese red sauce
2 cups of veggies--I used broccoli, cauliflower and carrots
6 oz. of sliced ham lunch meat--I used a nitrate-free version
4 oz. of Mozzarella, shredded
Parmesan cheese
Dried Parsley

Cook Pasta according to package directions.   While cooking pasta, steam vegetables.  Drain pasta and place in 9x13 baking dish. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat sauce in large pot at medium high heat.  Add steamed vegetables and use immersion blender to blend into the sauce until smooth (and no vegetables are detectable--ha ha--sneaky).  Pour sauce over pasta in the 9x13 baker.  Stack sliced ham and cut into small squares.  Add ham to pasta and sauce and mix together.  Top with grated mozzarella.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired.  Sprinkle with dried parsley.  Bake in preheated oven until cheese is melted.  I baked mine for about 20 - 25 minutes.  

My kids each asked for a second serving and asked if we could have it again "tomorrow night".  Mission accomplished.

I served this with whole wheat hotdog bun "garlic bread".  I had some leftover hot dog buns.  I remember when I was little, my mom used to butter hotdog buns and then stick them under the broiler (Hi MOM!!).
I loved them that way.  And my kids love them this way too.  I spread mine out and flattened them with a rolling pin.  Then I spread a soft butter on them and sprinkled them with garlic powder.  I broiled them until they were browned around the edges.  And that my friends is another great way to sneak in fiber!  Believe me. . . my kids are not lacking in fiber.  

What's your favorite way to sneak veggies in?

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